A strengthened law against abuse and abandoning of elderly parents may take more time to see the light of the day as the Prime Minister's Office has asked the Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry to get the effectiveness of the existing law on the issue reviewed by a third party, according to sources.
The ministry, as part of amending the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007, has proposed to increase the jail term for those who abandon or abuse their elderly parents to six months from the existing three months, said a senior official.
Strengthening the existing legislation has been among the topmost priorities of the Ministry in the second tenure of the Modi government.
The Act in its current form makes it a legal obligation for children and heirs to provide maintenance to senior citizens and parents.
According to sources, the ministry had drafted an amended legislation and sent it to the PMO.
"A meeting was held recently at the PMO which then asked the ministry to get the effectiveness of the implementation of the existing legislation assessed by a third party," a source said.
The ministry is in the process of tendering for the exercise, the sources said.
In the draft law, the ministry also proposed widening the definition of children to include adopted children or stepchildren, sons-in-law and daughters-in-law, grandchildren and minors represented by their legal guardians.
Currently, the term includes only sons, daughters and grandchildren.
The draft act also proposes doing away with an upper limit of Rs 10,000 per month as maintenance amount, thus making it variable.
"Those children who have good jobs and earn well should pay a higher amount for the upkeep of their parents," an official had said.
Also new clauses have been included to make it mandatory for the government to set standards for senior citizens care centres and multi-service daycare centres.
The ministry, through agencies such as Quality Control of India, would provide star ratings for old age homes so that an elderly person knows the standard of care to expect from a centre.